Episode 416 - Making cuts

Mar 4, 2019

The entire team is here this time, no one was cut… So we're chatting about CUTTING, as in cutting out scenes to make a story cleaner, leaner and less flabby, but also NOT cutting because in a webcomic you don't have to, and when you cut badly you end up with a “D movie” effect where story scenes don't follow, don't make sense and plots seem to go nowhere or happen for no reason.

Topics and Show Notes

In most stories you can cut out lots of bits and pieces and get a leaner, more streamlined result: the reason is that an audience will interpolate the missing information between two factors and create their own rationalisation for the events that lead from one to the other. Often this can get them a little more involved and invested in the story because of it. You can trick them into thinking it's a better, cleverer story than it is because they did some of the hard work themselves. Introductions and long establishing scenes can be cut, but also the “things” that happen between or lead up to something:
A murder for example. You don't need to show how it was done, just the intent to commit it and the discovery of the body the next day.

You have to be careful when you cut too much though because events and motivations will stop making meaningful sense and your story will turn to garbage as the structure begins to collapse. I'm sure we've all seen the DVD special features where scenes were cut to streamline the story and you realise WHY the finished product didn't quite make sense in its final form and that it would have been SO much better if they haven't cut that bit out…

Webcomics are a unique medium: they thrive on content. Commercial products have a lot of boundaries and rules they have to stick within, especially movies, so cutting content makes much more sense for them than it does for webcomics. But it's still an interesting thing to try, especially if you want to make your work more commercial in future, i.e. write it up as a screenplay, release it in 30 page printed issues, or even just go for a more cinematic feel.

Don't fall into the trap of pruning a story just for the sake of one element like “action” though, or because you want to rush from one scene to another. Stories benefit from having variation in the pacing. This is why action movies like Ronin and Diehard are so awesome: extreme action is beautifully contrasted and set up with slower scenes that let you take stock and rest (- https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/22/the-action-non-action-ratio/ as in Tantz's newspost last week). The film Van Helsing was well made and entertaining but the breaks between the non-action parts were insufficient, meaning that the impact of the action suffered because of it.

You often hear on DVD commentaries “We cut this part because we thought it was diverting from the main plot” among other rationalisations… Well sometimes that works in film and sometimes it doesn't. Webcomics though often benefit from the freedom to explore side-plots so be careful what you choose to cut.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Aikornia! Double, triple, contrabass, octobass cello! The big guns are coming to play for you now, ushering in the footsteps of doom. It’s like the knight’s dance from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, but as if it were written for ents instead!

Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
My Cute Wish - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/feb/26/featured-comic-my-cute-wish/

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Pit Face - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/

Featured music:
Aikonia - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Aikonia/, by Aikonia, rated E.

Episode 336 - Side romance

Aug 21, 2017

3 likes, 0 comments

Romances don't always have to be the main focus of a story, infact you can have richer, more interesting romances if they occur in support of a bigger plot issue. It can lend them and the story more weight if they're in a secondary position. Characters can form natural, less forced relationships with each other, and this can give the wider plot of the story more urgency or meaning because it has a direct bearing on the health of their union. You can reward fans with a wished for or unexpected blossoming of love between two favourite characters without having the same inevitability that a straight out romance has. Really, there are so many things you can do! This was inspired by Tantz's Saturday newspost. Gunwallace's theme for the week was for Mindfold: A tune that fits very well with its title! You can feel your mind folding with this gorgeous, echoing, evocative multicultural influenced sound, featuring all manner of crystalline ringing synths, soaring violins, drums and so much more. This would fit well with a high concept cyberpunk anime.

Episode 304 - eeeeeevil!

Jan 2, 2017

5 likes, 1 comment

What defines evil in fiction? I say the simplest one is bad guys are selfish, good guys are selfless. That is massively over simplistic but it's a good easy template for basic hero's and villains. Basic ones I was just doing a quick thought experiment to work out an easy way to define “good” and “evil” characters in fiction. The more selfless someone is the more “good” they are: the more they think of others, want to help people, put the needs of the masses first, the more willing they are to reach across to their enemies etc. The more selfish a person is the more “evil” they are: if they don't consider the needs or feelings of others, help out their own small group and let others suffer, help themselves first. Of course there are many other more advanced aspects, especially if you consider the relative nature of these things: the idea that everyone thinks they're the good guy from their own perspective, being cruel to be kind, being too authoritarian and heavy handed in the use of power, NOT using power when you should, helping in a way that only SEEMS destructive and selfish, trying to help but causing destruction and chaos in the process, which brings us to the dreaded “unintended consequences”. BUT, the selfless/selfish equation is a nice simple starting point to build from. In the Quackcast we discuss these aspects as well as more advanced notions about what makes a good evil character, what makes a bad one, humanising evil, and weakening you evil character by humanising them too much. Gunwallace's musical theme was for The Cull: Dark, haunting, and compelling- Eastern European Jewish, country and rock, reminds me of Tracy Bonham’s later work.

Episode 292 - Separating the art from the artists

Oct 5, 2016

4 likes, 2 comments

Separating the art from the artist, the message from the messenger… Can you do this? You know, when you find out an actor, musician, comic artist or whatever is an arsehole or says things you disagree with or is a criminal, can you separate that from their work and STILL manage to enjoy it? Or does it taint everything they've ever made? I've thought about this a lot. I think I can usually separate the art from the artist and I DON'T think that consuming the work of that artist in any way legitimises what I disagree with about them personally or endorses their criminal behaviour unless the art is specifically about that. But it can really depend on how personally you're affected by whatever it was about the artist that offended you; A Jewish person could have a far more negative reaction, understandably, to the watercolours of Adolph Hitler than most other people, to use an extreme example. What about you? Can you separate the message from the messenger, the art from the artist? The comic chosen for a marvellous theme THIS week was Cybertech. You'll hear the sounds of apocalyptic destruction and burning plasma in a dark future, epic world.

Episode 252 - Wish Fulfilment

Jan 4, 2016

3 likes, 5 comments

Happy new year! In this first Quackcast for 2016 we have Banes, Pitface and Tantz Aerine along to talk to us about Banes' neswpost topic of Wish Fulfilment in writing. It can be a good thing in that it makes the writer more interested and passionate about what they're doing as well as creating a very relatable ideal for readers with similar tastes. The negative side is that they make their world too perfect and too specific to themselves so that the whole thing just looks like an exercise in boring, pointless ego stroking. Gunwallace's theme this time was for Professor Herbert and GEO, which was also the featured comic! It sounds a bit like the theme to an '80s cartoon, which exactly what the comic looks like it should be O_o

Episode 138 - The Drunkcast, Part 2!

Oct 23, 2013

3 likes, 4 comments

Tantz Aerine, Pit Face and Banes join Ozoneocean for the second part of the Drunkcast! The theme is the same as last week: four webcomicers getting drunk and chatting drunkenly about drinking, as a homage to our site's proud former moniker: Drunk Duck. Tantz from an atmospheric bar in Athens called "Comics". Very appropriate! We rambled and rambled and had a great time. Hooray for the Drunkcast!!! And a HAPPY Belated Birthday to Pit Face's older brother Dustin, who we wish to live old enough to have white hair and when people talk about him they'll say he's a wise person!

Episode 107 - Back to Skool for the New Year!

Jan 7, 2013

4 likes, 6 comments

Happy new year! Here we all are, back to Skool! Banes, Skoolmunkee and I have a meandering, twisting, turning conversation, spanning many silly subjects in this New Year catchup Quackcast where we find out what each other was doing over the holiday, what comic related stuff we've done and thought about, what we got for xmas, what comic films we've seen and all that marvellous stuff as we listen to ourselves talk and feel massively important and clever! ...at least that's the case with me, the other two are actually pretty clever. Skool, Banes and I wish you a happy new 2013!


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